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READ MORE FROM THIS TRIP
Introduction: BULA! Flying Economy To The Happiest Place On Earth
• Review: The Westin Los Angeles Airport
• Review: Fiji Airway A330-200 (Economy); Los Angeles – Nadi
• Review: Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay
• Review: InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa
• Review: Sheraton Fiji Resort
• Review: The Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa, Fiji
• Review: Fiji Airways Premier Lounge
Other Articles About My Fiji Trip
• Reflecting On My Experience Traveling From the Fiji Airport to the Marriott Resort Momi Bay. Dangerous or Genius?
• How To Travel Between Nadi Town and Denarau Island For Cheap
I spent one night at the Westin Los Angeles Airport. The next day I checked out of the hotel at 4PM however before I made my way to the airport, I decided to pass the time in the Westin Executive Lounge because I knew dinner started at 5PM. 🤫
Fortunately (or unfortunately), this was still an extremely early departure for my 11pm flight, however, I planned to spend the majority of my wait in a Priority Pass Lounge pumping out a few blogs so it wouldn’t be as painful.
The complimentary Westin shuttle departed the hotel at 7:17PM and we arrived at Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) at 7:35PM.
HOW DID I BOOK?
I found a cheap deal from Los Angeles to Nadi, Fiji. Instead of redeeming miles to pay for the ticket, I booked the ticket through the Chase Travel Portal using my Chase Ink Preferred at 1.25 cents per point.
In total, I redeemed 31,630 points and did not have to pay any taxes. In fact, I accrued mile Alaska Airline miles because I booked it through the portal.
To be honest, that was an “ok” choice but not a phenomenal choice. I could have extracted a lot more value from my points by applying the 31,630 points for a future redemption, but I was adamant about not spending any money. The silver lining here is that you get to learn from my choices…good and not so good.
Fiji Airways Economy Class 330-200 Review
Fiji Airways Flight 811
Los Angeles (LAX) – Nadi (NAN)
Scheduled Departure: 11:00PM
Scheduled Arrival: 5:20AM (+2)
Seat: 35A (Economy Class)
This review will be a bit different as I will not be reviewing the return flight.
After arriving at TBIT, I quickly found the economy check-in desks where there was a slight line.
I was welcomed at the check-in counter by a friendly agent. I was asked for my passport and asked to place my carry-on bag on the scale. Before the agent even began checking me in, she glanced at the scale…
“Your bag is overweight. It’s 9 kilos (~19 lbs.) and it can only be 8 kilos (~18 lbs).”
“It won’t fit in the overheard bin if it’s that big but you can check it underneath the plane for free.”
I have a hardcover suitcase so the size of the bag does not change based on the clothes inside but…whatever. Fortunately, I always carry a book bag so I removed my swim trunks from my suitcase and placed them in my bookbag. I re-weighed my bag and it was 9 kilos and she approved it.
She printed my boarding pass and directed me to Gate 135 with an estimated boarding time of 10:15PM.
One of my frustrations with booking an economy ticket is that many airlines sell basic economy tickets. One of the stipulations of a basic economy ticket is you CAN NOT choose your seat until check-in at the airport. Therefore, in my case, it’s nearly impossible to strategically pick a seat because it appears 1/2 of the plane when someone books a regular economy ticket and is able to choose a seat during the booking process.
I was one of the first passengers to check-in on this flight and had assigned myself an empty row (aka – poor mans business class) in the rear of the plane. When I inquired if the seat next to me was still unoccupied, the agent replied “the seat beside you has been assigned but the person has not checked in yet.
This is was going to be a long 11 hour flight!
As always, the security line at TBIT was extremely long, particularly for a Monday night, but I went through security and arrived on other side at 8:33PM.
After coming through security, I turned to the right and proceed to my gate bypassing the lounges because…well, I had eaten well at the Westin and was full.
Once at the end of the concourse, I went through a set of double doors and a somewhat small maze but arrived at my gate.
A few moments later, this pretty bird was being towed into the gate.
Boarding began promptly at 10:15PM. The airline boards the plane by row starting with the rear of the plane so I was one of the first passengers to board.
I boarded through the second set of doors, where I was greeted by the cabin chief and a flight attendant, and directed to my economy seat. Fiji Airways A330-200 economy class consists of a total of 249 economy seats, spread across 39 rows in a 2-4-2 configuration.
It’s worth noting that gentle and nice acoustic island music was playing when boarding and even while taking off.
Located at my seat was a small blanket and soft pillow. The seat appeared a bit worn but I had low expectations given Fiji isn’t known for their award winning product.
I sat in my seat and found there to be adequate space between my knees and the set in front of me.
However, there were no individual air nozzles and the plane was extremely warm. Although I tend to be a hot-natured person, I was justified in my reaction as many people were fanning themselves with safety cards.
The boarding process was very efficient and the boarding door was closed at 10:50PM.
Surprisingly, my seat mate was unable to make the flight and I was one of a few people in the entire cabin that had an open seat next to them. Generally, I despise redeye flights because I am unable to fall asleep unless I am laying flat on my stomach. Having an open seat next to me helped…slightly.
The safety demonstration was automated and accompanied by a video on the monitor. The video ended by saying “…and enjoy Fiji time.” <—You really have no idea what this means until you get there. I’ll talk about this later.
It’s worth noting that every message by the lead flight attendant began with “bula” which was a great way to incorporate Fijian culture into the flight experience.
At 11:16PM, we began our push back from the gate and passed this Virgin Australia 777 being prepared for it’s flight to Sydney, Australia.
It was a short taxi to the runway but we waited several minutes for clearance as there were a lot of flights departing LAX at this time of night. We were finally cleared for takeoff and departed at 11:29PM.
The seatbelt sign was turned off 10 minutes after departure and the flight attendants distributed headphones and arrival cards to each passenger.
The headphones were adequate if you want to utilize the Inflight entertainment (IFE) system however I used my Bose QC35 noise cancelling headphones instead.
If you’re searching for the headphone jack, it’s located on the armrest. It took me about 10 minutes to find it.
The IFE system included a single USB plug, and a handset that allowed you to toggle through the various entertainment selections.
Unfortunately, the my IFE was extremely slow and barely responsive. The flight attendant reset my individual monitor but it did not help.
From what I was able to see during those first 45 minutes, Fiji appeared to have a diverse selection of movies and music including…’Crazy Rich Asians’…
…’A Star Is Born’ with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper…
…and classic films like Dumb and Dumber and ‘Lord of The Rings’
They also had music artists like Khalid…
And Fiji appeared to be a big fan of Beyoncé as they had EVERY SINGLE ALBUM or collaboration she has made or was involved including every Jay-Z and Solange song.
Given that it’s an 11 hour red-eye, I don’t think many passengers are critical of the movie and music selection because within minutes of taking off, I would estimate that 75% of the cabin was asleep.
FOOD AND BEVERAGES
This is the category where it went downhill for me. Passengers have the ability to order special meals on Fiji Airways during the booking process (or by contacting the airline’s reservations department). Meals require at least 48 hours notice, but you can order meals like a diabetic meal, fruit plate, gluten-free meal, Kosher meal, etc.
I had ordered a vegetarian meal because that was as close as I was going to get for ordering a vegan dish. However, by the time the crew arrived at the back of the plane, they had run out of veggie options and only had chicken dishes (covered in cheese?) remaining and even that didn’t look appetizing.
I decided to just go sleep as it had already been a long day of sitting in the hotel, sitting at the aiport, and now I was on an 11 hour flight.
Fortunately, when I woke up there were only 2 hours 43 minutes remaining.
However, the reason that I woke up was unnerving. The lights came on, the flight attendant announced over the PA “Welcome to our home. As we have just crossed the international dateline, the time is now 3:00AM local time on Wednesday.”
The lights remained on and within 15 minutes breakfast service began.
Again, everyone was served the exact same dish. Unfortunately, I was not able to eat the waffle (served with berry compote and whipped cream) nor the blueberry muffin.
Fortunately, as we approached Fiji the anticipation made the time fly by.
And before I knew it, we arrived a few minutes early (4:55AM) and were deplaning.
Regardless of the experience, it was nice to be welcomed into the customs area by a 3-person band playing tropical music on guitars and Ukuleles.
Overall, the flight wasn’t as bad as I had imagined. Perhaps, it was because I had entered the flight with low expectations?
So looking at the finer details…
- Having to remove one item from my carry-on is obnoxious.
- The seat, although worn, was comfortable
- IFE was extremely slow
- The cabin was warm in temperature but cooled off during the flight
- The food was…well, I’m not sure because they did not have anything that I could eat but from my observations, it didn’t appear very appetizing.
- The staff was friendly but forgettable. They also seemed a bit unorganized. There appeared to be a lot of walking back and forth but never seemed to be doing anything. For example, a flight attendant would walk down my aisle, transit through the galley, and immediately return up the other aisle and into the forward cabin without stopping. Interestingly, it also highlighted how polished other carriers are.
- Additionally, everything was automated including the safety video before takeoff and before landing which was unique and an experience that I can’t say that I’ve had before.
- Announcing we were crossing the international dateline bothered me because it’s rare that I am able to sleep in economy and I was sleeping well. Personally, I don’t feel like there was a need for the announcement.
Given that Fiji Airways has a monopoly on this route, it’s impossible to avoid them if you want to arrive in Fiji on a non-stop flight from the US.
Am I happy to arrive in Fiji? Absolutely!
Am I happy to experience paradise without having to spend $1 on my flight? Heck yeah!!
Would I recommend Fiji Airways? That’s a tough one. On one hand I arrived but that’s a very low bar for satisfaction.
Has anyone ever flown Fiji Airways? What was your experience?